From the pub, splendidly situated on a ridge overlooking the wide valley of the River Brede, the walk sets out along the well established and clearly signed 1066 Country Walk, descending briefly towards the Brede valley before climbing back over the ridge. The return route along less-well-used paths requires some care with navigation as it is largely unsigned. It takes in the northern slopes of the more intimate valley of the Pannel Stream, diverting to visit Icklesham church, first established in AD 722 and containing well-preserved features from the 11th and 12th centuries.
1. From the pub, set out along Parsonage Lane, walking away from the A259 and signed with a red logo as part of the 1066 Country Walk, a long-distance route linking the town of Rye with the historic sites of Battle Abbey and Pevensey Castle. The lane becomes, in turn, a rough track and then a hedged path.
2. Shortly go right over a stile and drop downhill along a right field edge. A faintly trodden path with fine views across the valley of the River Brede continues more steeply down a slope to a stile. Over the stile go forward walking parallel to the meandering left field edge. Cross a stile in the corner and go ahead along the right edge of two fields and then a drive which climbs out of the valley.
3. Follow a track as it skirts to the right of the buildings at Brook Farm. Rejoin the track which has come straight through the buildings and follow it out to a lane. The 1066 Country Walk soon goes off to the right but you should carry on along the lane following it for almost half a mile out to the A259.
4. Cross the main road, go over the stile opposite and head out across a field towards a gate. Pass to the right of the gate (i.e. not through it), continuing beside a left-hand fence. A trodden path curves to the right and, after 30 yards, you turn left along a woodland path. Cross a drive and go ahead with a close-boarded fence on your left. Descend to a footbridge and stile and bear left along the left edge of a young tree plantation. In the field corner go left through a gate and, after five yards, right along a narrow path between fence and hedge out to a lane.
5. Turn left and, after a few yards, go right along the drive to Scrag Oak Farm. In the farmyard, turn left, passing to the left of buildings and continuing along a left field edge. Over to your right is the valley of the Pannel Stream, a minor tributary of the Brede, with the spire of Pett church in view on the skyline.
6. In the field corner go through a wide gap and bear right along a right field edge. After about 200 yards, side-step to the right over the second of two stiles and resume your previous direction, now dropping gently down with a fence and hedge on your left. At the bottom of the hill go through a gate and climb with a hedge now on your right. In the top field corner go through a gate and keep close to the left edge of the next field, skirting to the right of a garden.
7. After about 100 yards, turn left through the farmyard at Knockbridge Farm and go ahead along the access drive from the farm out to a lane. Turn right. At a road junction go left and, after a few yards, turn right along the access drive to a pair of garages. Go over a stile beside a gate and shortly right and left to follow the right edge of an orchard. Join a drive and turn left passing to the left of the nicely converted twin oast house at Manor Farm.
8. Shortly fork left along a grassy path and soon look out for a path on the right providing access to Icklesham church, a building of great architectural interest, dating from the 12th century, with a Norman tower. Follow the access path from the church out to Workhouse Lane. Turn right, cross the A259 and follow Parsonage Lane back to the pub.
Winchelsea and Rye
The ancient hilltop towns of Winchelsea and Rye, two of the original Cinque Ports, are both within easy reach of Icklesham, eastwards along the A259. Rye is notable for its cobbled streets and ancient buildings and Winchelsea has streets laid out on a chequer-board pattern by Edward I in 1292. Although subsequently ravaged by French raiders, three of its ancient gatehouses and the 14th-century church survive.
The starting point is The Queen's Head in Icklesham. Park in the pub car park with permission or in the village recreation ground car park. The Queen's Head is signposted northwards from the A259 Hastings-to-Rye road along Parsonage Lane. The recreation ground car park is on the south side of the A259, a few yards west of the A259 / Parsonage Lane junction.